Here we are in the pink month of October and once again, as a woman with diabetes, I feel like the ugly step-sister. I drive my car to Target and see the pink ribbon bumper stickers, I open the newspaper and read the front page profiles of breast cancer survivors. Every year it’s the same thing. Hordes of men, women and children across the country register for the Susan G. Komen 5k races, while others dye a strand of pink in their hair. Various charities put on art or food and wine events to raise money for breast cancer and every where I look there is this powerful storm of a community, raising awareness about breast cancer.
And then November, Diabetes awareness month, rolls around and I feel second best. I look in the paper for stories of women living with diabetes, I look for a local 5k or even a walk for diabetes and the closest one is a 2 hour drive away. In my car at the stop light I search for diabetes bumper stickers, but there are none. With almost 30 million diabetics in the US compared to approx. 2.5 million breast cancer survivors, why are we the David compared to the breast cancer goliath?
I want to have a cute bumper sticker for diabetes. I want a cute slogan like “Save the ta-ta’s” but “save the beta cells” just doesn’t have the same punch. Somehow breast cancer is sexy and powerful and when you see a woman with a scarf tied around her head, you are filled you with compassion. And I don’t know if the same can be said when you see a woman checking her blood sugar or pulling her pump from under her shirt.
I understand that these diseases are very different-one is a chronic illness that can be managed with diet, exercise and insulin while the other can be deadly. (I think we all know that diabetes, if poorly controlled, can also lead to death.) And I don’t want to sound like the whiney underdog. What I want to do is learn from this community of breast cancer survivors. I want see diabetes stickers, tee shirts, races and fundraisers everywhere I look during the month of November. I want our color (is it blue or red?) to appear on the packages of food in grocery stores across the country. I want to raise the same kind of cash for diabetes research that is being raised for breast cancer. I want diabetes to get out of the pumpkin and ride to the castle in a gold plated horse carriage, no longer the ugly step-sister.